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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Athletics, Monday 3/6

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It's 35 degrees in Chicago as I write this, foggy and drizzly, with a chance of light snow later today.

You know, Opening Day weather.

Say, that guy Maddux hasn't pitched yet! Anyone wanna start rumors about why he isn't ready?

Seriously, if Mark Prior winds up pitching in a spring game by the end of this week, I think that ought to put the injury talk to rest. You know, this he-said-he-said stuff:

"When a guy who had pinpoint control his whole life stops throwing the ball in a teacup like Mark Prior could, there's something wrong with him," Stone said in the radio interview. "It tells me he's not 100 percent. Now, I'm not saying he's hurt; I just think it's kind of strange. My feeling is if Prior was 100 percent, they wouldn't be handling him like they're handling him."

And how does he know this? Speculation. Is he there? This is his "feeling". And about "pinpoint control":

As for losing his pinpoint control, Prior pointed to the statistics. He finished 12th in the National League last year with a 3.19 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

"That's still pretty good the last time I checked,'' he said. "Would I like to push it into the 4s? Yeah, I would. But you break down my game the first three years, and I didn't only get people out right on the corner. I had a lot of swings and misses up in the zone by being aggressive."

I'll still expect Prior to start by Saturday.

Today, Angel Guzman faces Dan Haren. Didn't we just see Haren last week?

Finally, in something absolutely, completely unrelated to the above, or baseball, or anything, over the weekend I came across this article concerning the ongoing NFL labor negotiations.

Here's the most astounding statistic from that article:

The league's latest round of negotiations with its television partners resulted in new contracts with NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN and satellite carrier DirecTV that total $23.9 billion over the next eight years - or more than $747 million per team during that stretch.

Let me repeat that.

Seven hundred forty-seven million dollars per team, over an eight-year period. Nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars.

That is before a single ticket, beer or T-shirt is sold. And it doesn't count new revenue streams from improved technologies and entities like the NFL Network, which will telecast regular-season games starting next season.

Once again: If you own an NFL team, you have to be a drooling, blithering idiot not to make millions.

Those numbers are astonishing (they come to about $93 million per year), and they don't apply to baseball teams, some of whom make less from broadcasting, some of whom (the Yankees, in particular) make far more, since MLB doesn't centralize its TV revenues like the NFL does.

And yet, MLB teams are soaking in many, many more dollars this year than in the past, primarily because of new revenue streams from ventures such as MLB Advanced Media (their online arm), their recent purchase of tickets.com, and others.

That's yet another reason why I do NOT believe there will be a strike or lockout after the 2006 season. Like the NFL, MLB does have its share of, as the above article calls them, "drooling, blithering idiots" - on both sides. I'd imagine they could stop drooling and blithering long enough to realize that everyone's making a lot of money, and they ought to not stop the gravy train.

Discuss amongst yourselves.